Skip to Main Content
Skip Nav Destination


By the year 1517, 25 years after Christopher Columbus discovered the New World, most of the Atlantic coasts of both North and South America had been sighted and reasonably well surveyed. Most of the islands of the Caribbean had been colonized by the Spaniards, and northern South America and the Caribbean coast of Central America, from Panama to Honduras, had been explored and mapped. Four years earlier, in 1513, Vasco Nuñlboa had reached the Pacific Ocean by crossing the isthmus of Panama, but the search for a sea route to the Pacific and to the fabulous kingdoms of the Orient, the original objective of Columbus' had not yet met with success. The great Gulf of Mexico—the “Sinus Mexicanus” of many old maps— also remained unknown, and there was considerable confusion concerning which of the discovered lands were islands and which were parts of the mainland.

Juan Ponce de Leon, in his search for the legendary fountain that would restore youth to old men, had explored in 1513 the east coast of the Florida Peninsula as far north as the present location of St. Augustine, but had only ventured a short distance north along the west coast. He was convinced that he had discovered an immense island. Diego Miruelo, in 1516, explored the east coast of Florida and seems to also have sailed some distance along the west coast of the peninsula. But neither Ponce de Leon nor Miruelo realized they had sailed into the entrance to a vast gulf or

You do not currently have access to this chapter.

Figures & Tables





Citing Books via

Close Modal

or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal